Friday, September 30, 2016

Veto a Pro-Life bill? Get placed on Trump's Pro-Life Coalition!


Last night, Governor Mary Fallin released the following announcement on her Facebook page: "I am honored to serve on Donald J. Trump's pro-life coalition! It is important to elect a president who will stand up and fight for the rights of the unborn. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain"

Let's review Mary Fallin's recent record on pro-life issues.

As a congresswoman (2007-2011), she, along with nearly every Republican member, voted appropriately on pro-life measures, receiving a 100% rating from National Right to Life.

However, as Governor, she has toed the Chamber of Commerce line - pushing against banning embryonic stem cell research and, most recently, vetoing a pro-life bill (SB 1552) which would have revoked medical licenses for doctors who perform abortions after viability. As a result, Oklahoma now has its first new abortion clinic since 1974.

If the Chamber says a pro-life measure will hurt the Almighty Dollar ("detrimental to economic development"), Fallin has tended to weaken her stance or join the Chamber in outright opposition.

Remember, Donald Trump praised Planned Parenthood from a GOP presidential debate stage. His rhetoric may have changed now, but when his core beliefs come out they seem to be different.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Bridenstine: Why I voted against the FY17 Continuing Resolution


Congressman Jim Bridenstine Votes Against Billions in Inappropriate Spending

Washington, DC, September 29, 2016 -- Last night, I voted against the FY17 Continuing Resolution (CR), legislation which denies my constituents representation in determining how their taxpayer money is spent.  CRs represent the worst of Washington: a broken process to fund the government, backroom deal making, and refusal for Congress to use the “power over the purse” to reign in the executive branch.

We see this every year:  Harry Reid and Senate Democrats filibuster bills to fund the government in regular order.  Reid and Obama then threaten to shut down the government unless Republican Leadership gives in to their demands.  A short-term CR is passed followed by a trillion-dollar, 2,000-page Omnibus a few months later.

This particular CR does the following:

  • Gives a raise to Planned Parenthood
  • Spends over $1 billion to combat Zika without any offsetting spending cuts.  Instead of new spending, the Obama Administration should use tens of billions available in unspent International Assistance funds. 
  • New spending for disaster relief in Louisiana, Maryland and West Virginia.  Yet, my office confirmed that FEMA will have $1.7 billion in unspent Disaster Relief Fund money which could be used.
  • Busts the budget caps for non-defense social welfare programs by $1.5 billion. 
  • Creates $6 billion in fake “savings” from a budget gimmick called Changes in Mandatory Programs (CHIMPS).
  • Fully funds Obamacare despite insurers fleeing the exchanges and jacking up premiums, including an average of 76% in Oklahoma. 

 The American people have elected Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Yet, zero provisions in the CR achieve conservative policy goals including stopping Obama’s internet handover, the Syrian refugee program, and illegal executive amnesty.


Blogger's note: to their credit, Sen. Jim Inhofe, Sen. James Lankford, Rep. Markwayne Mullin and Rep. Steve Russell joined Bridenstine in voting against this particular CR. Rep. Tom Cole and Rep. Frank Lucas voted in favor.

NRA endorses State Sen. Larry Boggs for re-election


NRA Endorses Sen. Larry Boggs in District 7 race

September 30, 2016 --  Sen. Larry Boggs (R-Wilburton) is proud to announce the endorsement of the National Rifle Association in his District 7 re-election campaign.  The NRA gives Boggs an A rating for his pro-Second Amendment voting record.

   According to the NRA, Senator Boggs is a "solidly pro-gun candidate."

   The NRA says an A rating means Boggs is "a candidate who has supported NRA positions on key votes in elective office or a candidate with a demonstrated record of support on key issues."

    Boggs co-authored a gun rights bill, SB-2614, which was signed into law by Governor Fallin in 2014.

    Larry Boggs is a lifetime member of the NRA and believes this endorsement will have a strong influence on voters in November.  The Democrat challenging Boggs refused to return the NRA questionnaire which the NRA considers "an indication of indifference, if not outright hostility, to gun owners' and sportsmen's rights."

    "I will always support and defend the Second Amendment," says Sen. Boggs.  "It's a right that voters in Southeastern Oklahoma take very seriously so I consider the endorsement of the NRA an honor.  It lets voters know I will always be a vigilant leader when it comes to defending our constitutional rights."

    Larry Boggs is a lifelong resident of Southeastern Oklahoma, successful business owner and rancher.  For details on his plans for Oklahoma visit www.BoggsForSenate.com.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Senate may give Planned Parenthood Zika funding in new Continuing Resolution

GOP Aide: Senate Republicans’ Budget Bill Opens up 
Possible Zika Funding for Planned Parenthood


Dustin Siggins, Stream.org
A GOP Senate Appropriations Committee aide has confirmed to The Stream that Republicans will allow Planned Parenthood to “apply for reimbursements” under new Zika prevention funding proposed by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

On Thursday, the Republican-controlled committee released a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the federal government’s operations funded until December 9. Federal funding is currently approved through September 30, after which discretionary operations of the government would shut down. In addition to funding the federal government, the CR bill provides $500 million for emergency flood assistance in several states, and provides $1.1 billion to fight the spread of the Zika virus.

Democrats have thrice-blocked a stand-alone funding bill intended to fight Zika in Florida, Puerto Rico and elsewhere, in part because Planned Parenthood would be unable to access $95 million used to stop the virus’ spread.

The New Funding

Politico reports that the CR bill does not include several non-funding priorities of each party, such as an Internet provision preferred by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and emergency funding for Flint, Michigan, desired by Democrats. The lack of funding for Flint and the non-inclusion of a financial provision preferred by Democrats led President Barack Obama’s press secretary to say on Friday that the president is considering vetoing the budget bill.

But it is the Zika funding that is creating controversy on the pro-life right. Democrats have held up funding for months because Republicans declined to open up a $95 million pot for access by Planned Parenthood. Now, that’s changed, according to an internal Capitol Hill analysis provided to The Stream.

That analysis notes that Hyde Amendment limitations on the $1.1 billion in Zika prevention and vaccine funding are in place, thus limiting potential use for abortions to those related to rape, incest and life of the mother. Planned Parenthood may be able to access portions of $95 million being sent to Puerto Rico ($60 million), $15 million for states that have “local transmissions” of Zika (so far, Florida), and $20 million for a Puerto Rico-specific “Maternal and Child Health Block Grant” that will go through a specific funding mechanism that the analysis states “has never been used for Planned Parenthood.”

According to the GOP aide, “the Zika agreement does not provide funding for any particular non-government organization. Like other health care providers, Planned Parenthood and its two affiliate clinics in Puerto Rico are not guaranteed funding in any form.”

“Health care providers will be eligible to apply for reimbursements through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) or through the Puerto Rico Department of Health,” continued the aide.

Pro-life advocates may also take issue with the funding of contraceptives. Many forms also act as an abortion-inducing drug or device. None of this money is going through Title X, which is where Planned Parenthood gets tens of millions annually for providing contraceptives and abortifacients to women.

The rest of the money is going to international aid, vaccine development and other Zika-related efforts. That funding is detailed by the committee’s official summary of the Zika section of the funding bill.

One Heritage Foundation analyst accused Republicans of giving Planned Parenthood a chance to “get a raise,” since the CR funds both the annual $500 million-plus that typically goes to Planned Parenthood and leaves open the door to other reimbursements.

Live Action’s Lila Rose urged supporters to tell Congress to reject the CR, saying that Planned Parenthood is “exploiting the Zika crisis and taxpayers to boost its bottom line even more.”

NRA endorses State Sen. Joseph Silk for re-election


State Senator Joseph Silk Earns NRA Endorsement & Top A+ Rating

(Broken Bow, OK, 09/27/2016) – State Senator Joseph Silk, has earned the highest rating the NRA awards to lawmakers, the A+ Rating, and is the only candidate endorsed in the Senate District 5 race on November 8th.

Just 9 lawmakers received the highest A+ Rating from a field of over 130 races and over 200 candidates graded by the NRA this cycle within the state of Oklahoma. Senator Silk is currently running for re-election to State Senate District 5, representing McCurtain, Leflore, Pushmataha, Choctaw and part of Atoka Counties.

According to the NRA, the A+ Rating is reserved to award only legislators who “not only have an excellent voting record on all critical NRA issues, but who have also made a vigorous effort to support and defend the Second Amendment.”

Silk was a Senate author of HB2637, known as the Hunting Freedom Act, signed into law this year by Governor Fallin.

Senator Silk is a staunch defender of the Second Amendment Right to “Keep and Bear Arms” – citing it as a fundamental right of Americans to be secure in our freedom. “When we cannot defend ourselves, we are no longer a free people,” he said. “I will stand tirelessly against those that seek to limit our access to that right, and will work to uphold and defend all of our freedoms defined in the U.S. Constitution.

To contact State Senator Silk, or to find out more about his campaign or service as our state senator, please visit his Facebook page.


Blogger's note: reelecting Sen. Silk is of utmost importance for Oklahoma conservatives and especially pro-life activists. He is the most conservative freshman in the State Senate and has taken very bold stands on ending abortion and protecting our rights.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Livestream of the first Clinton vs. Trump debate (8pm CT)

The first presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump is tonight. The moderator will be Lester Holt from NBC News, and the debate will run from 8:00pm to 9:30pm (Central Time).

You can watch a livestream from PBS below, starting at 8pm:


The debate will also be aired on most of the major television and cable channels (i.e. ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, NBC, PBS, etc).

Music Monday: 'The Imperial March' from Star Wars

This week's Music Monday is The Imperial March from the Star Wars movie franchise, composed by John Williams.

Enjoy!



Click to go below the page break to see all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to submit for a future Music Monday? Email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Local family supports Police, Fire, EMS with unique gifts


Amid all the negative national attention on law enforcement, one Muskogee family decided to show their support for local emergency services in a unique manner.

Teaching their children to be comfortable approaching law enforcement officers, this week the Walls family started giving out the pictured "Survival Kits" of candy to various police, fire and EMS. They were gracious enough to answer some questions for this post.

1) What prompted you to do this?
"With everything bad going on with the police etc, I wanted to give our local police something positive."

2) What agencies have you provided the kits to?
"Muskogee Police Department, Muskogee Fire Department, and EMS."

3) How many kits have you handed out so far?
"We have handed out 15 so far, but will be doing more this week."

4) What do you hope people can learn from this?
"I hope people will become more comfortable with our officers and know they're here to help!"

5) How has the response been when you've given these out?
"I have got only great responses! Especially from the fire station #4, they really welcomed my kids! Even let them see the fire truck!"


What a great idea for productive and positive interaction for their children. It's good to see members of our community supporting those agencies that are there for us 24/7. Let's hope we see more of this rather than the negative, destructive behavior often in the news.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ted Cruz: "I will vote for Donald Trump"



Yesterday, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced his support of Donald Trump for President:

"This election is unlike any other in our nation’s history. Like many other voters, I have struggled to determine the right course of action in this general election.

In Cleveland, I urged voters, “please, don’t stay home in November. Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket whom you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”

After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump.

I’ve made this decision for two reasons. First, last year, I promised to support the Republican nominee. And I intend to keep my word.

Second, even though I have had areas of significant disagreement with our nominee, by any measure Hillary Clinton is wholly unacceptable — that’s why I have always been #NeverHillary.

Six key policy differences inform my decision. First, and most important, the Supreme Court. For anyone concerned about the Bill of Rights — free speech, religious liberty, the Second Amendment — the Court hangs in the balance. I have spent my professional career fighting before the Court to defend the Constitution. We are only one justice away from losing our most basic rights, and the next president will appoint as many as four new justices. We know, without a doubt, that every Clinton appointee would be a left-wing ideologue. Trump, in contrast, has promised to appoint justices “in the mold of Scalia.”

For some time, I have been seeking greater specificity on this issue, and today the Trump campaign provided that, releasing a very strong list of potential Supreme Court nominees — including Sen. Mike Lee, who would make an extraordinary justice — and making an explicit commitment to nominate only from that list. This commitment matters, and it provides a serious reason for voters to choose to support Trump.

Second, Obamacare. The failed healthcare law is hurting millions of Americans. If Republicans hold Congress, leadership has committed to passing legislation repealing Obamacare. Clinton, we know beyond a shadow of doubt, would veto that legislation. Trump has said he would sign it.

Third, energy. Clinton would continue the Obama administration’s war on coal and relentless efforts to crush the oil and gas industry. Trump has said he will reduce regulations and allow the blossoming American energy renaissance to create millions of new high-paying jobs.

Fourth, immigration. Clinton would continue and even expand President Obama’s lawless executive amnesty. Trump has promised that he would revoke those illegal executive orders.

Fifth, national security. Clinton would continue the Obama administration’s willful blindness to radical Islamic terrorism. She would continue importing Middle Eastern refugees whom the FBI cannot vet to make sure they are not terrorists. Trump has promised to stop the deluge of unvetted refugees.

Sixth, Internet freedom. Clinton supports Obama’s plan to hand over control of the Internet to an international community of stakeholders, including Russia, China, and Iran. Just this week, Trump came out strongly against that plan, and in support of free speech online.

These are six vital issues where the candidates’ positions present a clear choice for the American people.

If Clinton wins, we know — with 100% certainty — that she would deliver on her left-wing promises, with devastating results for our country.

My conscience tells me I must do whatever I can to stop that.

We also have seen, over the past few weeks and months, a Trump campaign focusing more and more on freedom — including emphasizing school choice and the power of economic growth to lift African-Americans and Hispanics to prosperity.

Finally, after eight years of a lawless Obama administration, targeting and persecuting those disfavored by the administration, fidelity to the rule of law has never been more important.

The Supreme Court will be critical in preserving the rule of law. And, if the next administration fails to honor the Constitution and Bill of Rights, then I hope that Republicans and Democrats will stand united in protecting our fundamental liberties.

Our country is in crisis. Hillary Clinton is manifestly unfit to be president, and her policies would harm millions of Americans. And Donald Trump is the only thing standing in her way.

A year ago, I pledged to endorse the Republican nominee, and I am honoring that commitment. And if you don’t want to see a Hillary Clinton presidency, I encourage you to vote for him."

Russell Turner: vote yes on SQ777

THE CONSERVATIVE VIEW

by Russell Turner


COWABUNGA
With the general election getting closer I have been watching the debates on the upcoming state questions that will be on the Oklahoma ballot. One of particular interest to me is SQ 777, more commonly known as the right to farm bill. Having lived my entire life on the farm I feel that I have a perspective on the issue that many people do not.

Among the groups that are the most anti SQ777 are the environmental enthusiasts. It is a noble thing to want to protect the environment, we farmers and ranchers also care for the environment, sadly most of the radical environmentalists have set their collective sights on the rural farmers and ranchers. We farmers and ranchers are under constant financial pressures that few people understand. Over the past several months there has been a constant barrage of stories on the news media about the low pay of Oklahoma teachers; while their salary may be considered low, many farmers would think they were in Hog Heaven if they were able to net what an Oklahoma teacher is paid. In this country society has developed an attitude that the farmer should be content to wear old patched clothes and just barely get by. Anytime more regulations are passed it puts more pressure on the farming class, on the other hand all of these people screaming to the top of their lungs don’t have a tired dime involved.

Just recently a law was passed in California (SB 1383) that requires the state to cut methane emissions from dairy cows and other animals by 40% by 2030. While their Moon Beam governor Jerry Brown thinks this law is a good thing, there is no known method for achieving the type of reduction sought by SB 1383. Compliance with the bill will likely require California dairies to install “methane digesters” that convert the organic matter in manure into methane. These methane digesters are expensive, and with California producing 20% of the country’s milk the legislature of California has just passed another massive “food tax” on the entire country.

I have come to the conclusion that if the radical environmentalists had their way there would be very little food grown in this country. All they can suggest is for the farmer to become more efficient, but I want to give all of you a revelation - there is only so much efficiency that can be achieved on a limited budget. If all of the environmentalists are so devoted to the cause maybe they would not mind paying more for their vegetables and meats. I would lay odds that the environmentalists would be the first to complain when their milk and egg prices go up. The farmers of this state and nation deserve to make a decent wage and be able to set aside some funds for their retirement years and also make enough to pay for healthcare. Don’t take my word on this issue; just ask some of the local farmers in your area, they will all tell you the same thing. 

SQ 777 is simply a way to prevent the demise of the farming industry in Oklahoma. The real problem stems back to the people that we have been electing to represent us in the state legislature. Very few legislators have any connection with the land, nor have they had to sweat and toil for the small amount of money that the small farmer actually makes.  I for one will vote yes on SQ777.  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Today's Electoral Map

If the presidential election followed the current polling averages in each state, here's what the result would be:


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com


From where polling stands right now, Trump's best shot is to peel Colorado and Florida away from Clinton, which would shift the electoral college to 275 Trump, 263 Clinton.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Music Monday: Awake the Trumpet's Lofty Sound

We've reached a Music Monday milestone; I started these weekly music posts back on September 14th last year, so with this we begin year two. I did better than I thought I would - I missed just one post (Thanksgiving week).

This week's Music Monday is Awake the Trumpet's Lofty Sound from G.F. Handel's oratorio Samson (this video is the instrumental version without the choir).

Enjoy!



Click to go below the page break to see all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to submit for a future Music Monday? Email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Planned Parenthood’s hypocritical drive to end pro-life free speech











On August 31, the California legislature sent a bill to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk that could throw whistleblowers and pro-life investigators in jail. Written by Planned Parenthood, it has been opposed by The Los Angeles Times and the ACLU – two prominent organizations that back abortion – on free speech grounds.

Days later, President Barack Obama proposed a regulation that would, according to Huffington Post, “permanently” prevent states from defunding Planned Parenthood. The regulation says that states may not take away Title X birth control and abortifacient funding – most of which goes to Planned Parenthood – from any groups over philosophical or ideological differences, such as the scientific truth that abortion kills unborn children.

In other words: If you’re a taxpayer who might want your tax dollars to not fund abortion-inducing drugs and devices, you’re out of luck. This is unlike “about 9,000 providers” who lost state funding in the last couple of decades, according to Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Casey Mattox. Mattox told Congress that while “in most of these cases, they’re completely uncontroversial,” only Planned Parenthood receives federal protection, “a privilege that other providers don’t get to have.”

These are just the latest efforts by Planned Parenthood and its well-funded allies in government to restrict free speech by pro-life Americans. Planned Parenthood has backed the Obama administration’s HHS Mandate that requires nuns, priests, religious health and educational institutions, and for-profit business owners and employees to pay for abortion-inducing drugs and devices. The mandate lost in the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2014 Hobby Lobby case, and was knocked down to lower courts by the Supreme Court earlier this year.

Yet Planned Parenthood stands by it, demanding that private citizens use their private dollars to pay for things they morally oppose.

Bubble and barrier zones that limit pro-life advocates’ ability to make their case while on public property are in place across the country, with Planned Parenthood’s backing, while no such restrictions apply to abortion workers and volunteers. In fact, in Chicago, Planned Parenthood donated birth control and abortifacients so its supporters could stand on Hobby Lobby’s private property and distribute these items.

Additionally, a number of cities and states around the country have attempted to force pro-life pregnancy care centers to recommend abortions. The California version of this law has been supported by Planned Parenthood, which has hypocritically joined NARAL in opposing pro-life investigations while using NARAL’s “investigations” to target pro-life speech.

Planned Parenthood’s cherry-picked sensitivity to free speech infringements aren’t limited to undercover investigations. The group sued Ohio to retain state funding, with its lawyers declaring eliminating funding would constitute harm to Planned Parenthood’s free speech. The same is true in Utah, and elsewhere.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Democrat deception in SD33?


It appears that State Senate candidate Kimberly Fobbs is attempting to fool voters in Senate District 33 by using signs like pictured above. Some voters will probably assume that Fobbs is a Republican. That's not the case; she's a proud Democrat, and is running against incumbent Republican State Sen. Nathan Dahm.

In the 6th most Republican district (59.29% Republican to 27.82% Democrat), it's not surprising that Democrats would try this.  It reminds me of the fake Janet Barresi signs Democrats used in 2014.

2,187 Democrats voted in their two-way SD33 primary, while 6,259 voted in the three-way GOP primary, with Dahm receiving 3,994 votes (63.81%). Things don't look that promising for Fobbs.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

OCPA posts voter's guide for state questions

 Voters' Guide to Ballot Measures

A product of the populist era, the Oklahoma Constitution establishes processes for direct democracy. On the November 2016 general election ballot, Oklahoma voters will decide whether to adopt four constitutional amendments and three changes to state statutes.

Some of these measures are as simple as restating current law. Others would make complex regulatory changes or change legal standards in future lawsuits. The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs does not support or oppose ballot measures. To help voters, we are providing accurate descriptions and analysis of what these ballot measures say and will do if adopted by voters.


[ State Question 776 ] Reiterating the Constitutionality of the Death Penalty

Description: Article 2, Section 9 of the Oklahoma Constitution, just like the Eighth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, prohibits “cruel or unusual punishment.” S.Q. 776 would add new language to Section 9, clarifying that capital punishment is not “cruel or unusual punishment.” It would clarify that the legislature can determine methods of execution and specifying that if a method of execution is found invalid, the sentence of death would remain and be carried out by some other valid method.

Impact: When both the U.S. and Oklahoma constitutional prohibitions against “cruel or unusual punishment” were adopted, they were understood not to prohibit capital punishment. Nevertheless, some advocates have claimed and a few judges have held that the death penalty is unconstitutional. The purpose of S.Q. 776 is to reiterate, in the state Constitution, that capital punishment is not unconstitutional in Oklahoma. It also clarifies that the legislature, rather than judges, has the power to determine methods of execution.

[ State Question 777 ] Limiting Regulations of Farming and Ranching

Description: This measure would add a new section to Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution. It would declare that “the rights of citizens and lawful residents of Oklahoma to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state.” It would not overturn any regulations enacted through the end of 2014. Any regulation passed later than that, or in the future, by the state legislature would require a “compelling state interest.”

Impact: The text of S.Q. 777 says its purpose is to “protect agriculture,” which it declares “is the foundation and stabilizing force of Oklahoma’s economy.” It could not be used to challenge any laws enacted in 2014 or earlier. For later laws, or anything enacted by a future legislature, S.Q. 777 would require courts to apply the highest legal standard, often called “strict scrutiny,” in legal challenges to state legislation regulating “agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices.” Without proof of a “compelling state interest,” judges would strike down any such legislative acts.

[ State Question 779 ] Sales Tax Increase Directed to State Education

Description: This state constitutional amendment would increase Oklahoma’s state sales tax by an additional one percent. The tax revenue would go into a new special fund, from which 69.5 percent would go to school districts according to the state aid formula, 19.25 percent to state universities and colleges, 8 percent to the State Department of Education for early childhood education, and 3.25 percent to the Department of Career and Technology Education. School districts would be required to use some of their funds to raise teacher pay by at least $5,000. The State Board of Equalization would have power to supervise the legislature’s use of the tax increase revenue to ensure it is used to increase spending levels for state education.

Impact: S.Q. 779 would increase spending on state education programs by an estimated $615 million per year. According to the Tax Foundation, it would raise Oklahoma’s average statewide sales tax to the second-highest in the nation. About 61 percent of the tax increase would fund an increase in public school teacher salaries. Oklahoma’s current average teacher salary is $44,921. A study by the 1889 Institute found that when the cost of living is factored into state average teacher salaries, Oklahoma ranks 30th. That study found that a $5,000 salary increase would put Oklahoma at 15th among the states, just behind Texas.

[ State Question 780 ] Reducing Sentences for Nonviolent Crimes

Description: This measure amends state laws related to certain drug and property crimes. Possessing illegal drugs would become a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. For property crimes like theft, fraud, and embezzlement, the seriousness of the offense and level of punishment are based on the value of the money or property involved. This measure amends a number of property crime statutes so that, in most cases, property offenses relating to less than $1,000 would be misdemeanor crimes punishable by no more than one year in jail and maximum fines of $1,000 or less.

Impact: Felonies are crimes punishable by incarceration for more than one year in state prison; misdemeanors are crimes punishable by incarceration for one year or less, usually served in a county jail. Oklahoma has the second highest incarceration rate in the United States, and spends about half a billion tax dollars each year on corrections. S.Q. 780 would change state law so that the possession of illegal drugs would be a misdemeanor instead of a felony. Manufacturing, trafficking, and selling illegal drugs would remain felonies punishable by long terms of imprisonment. Because of reforms passed this year by the state legislature (after S.Q. 780 was written), most of the reductions in sentences for nonviolent property crimes are already set to take effect this fall.

[ State Question 781 ] Directing Sentencing Reform Savings to Counties

Description: This measure will only take effect if voters also pass S.Q. 780. It would require Oklahoma’s Office of Management and Enterprise Services to calculate how much the state government has saved from the reforms made by S.Q. 780 (from fewer people being sent to state prisons) and to transfer that amount of state funds to a new special account. Funds from the account would then be provided to county governments, “in proportion to county populations,” for “rehabilitative services, including but not limited to mental health and substance abuse services.”

Impact: If S.Q. 780 is passed by voters, some people who commit nonviolent crimes will serve their shorter sentences in county jails rather than in state prisons. This means the state will save money, but counties will have higher expenses. S.Q. 781 is intended to capture the state’s savings and make it available to the counties. It earmarks those funds for rehabilitation services, but leaves counties free to design and operate those programs at the local level.

[ State Question 790 ] Repealing Article 2, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution

Description: This measure removes the following section from the Oklahoma Constitution: “No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.”

Impact: In 2015, the Oklahoma Supreme Court forced the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from the State Capitol grounds. The state Court said that while the monument may have been acceptable according to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, it violated Article 2, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution. In response, state legislators enacted the resolution to send S.Q. 790 to voters to decide whether to repeal this state constitutional language and, in effect, overturn the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision.

[ State Question 792 ] Reforming Constitutional Regulations on the Sale of Alcoholic Beverages

Description: This measure would replace Article 28 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which regulates alcoholic beverages. It would eliminate the current distinction between “low-point” beer (required to have less than 3.2 percent alcohol by weight) and other beer and would end the prohibition against selling refrigerated alcoholic beverages. Grocery stores could sell beer and wine, but would be required to maintain a license. Liquor stores would be allowed to sell products other than alcoholic beverages, with some restrictions, and could remain open until midnight rather than being required to close at 9 p.m. Consumers could receive direct shipments of wine, but only for personal use, directly from wineries, and with limits on the number of cases.

Impact: Among the states, Oklahoma has some of the most restrictive regulations of the sale of alcohol. S.Q. 792 would reduce some of these regulations, especially by allowing grocery stores to sell beer and wine and by allowing refrigeration of the products in all stores. Some liquor store owners are concerned that the changes will hurt their businesses because of increased competition with less regulated grocery stores. The Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement (ABLE) Commission would remain and would regulate the sale of alcoholic beverages at all stores.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Garrett King Named OETA Board of Directors Chairman



From OETA, Sept. 12th, 2016 - The Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) board of directors has selected Garrett King of Weatherford as its next chairman, effective immediately. Clarke Stroud was elected vice chairman and State Superintendent for Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister was named secretary. Glen D. Johnson, J.D., remains on the board as past chairman.

"OETA's programming was a valued part of my childhood and upbringing in the peanut fields between Binger and Eakly in northern Caddo County, and now as a father myself I'm honored that my colleagues on the OETA board of directors have named me the authority's 23rd chair since C. F. Spencer's election in 1953," said King. "I look forward to working with OETA's dedicated and innovative staff, our partners at the OETA Foundation and in state government and with OETA's enthusiastic and tireless supporters to further our mission of providing essential educational content and services that inform, inspire and connect Oklahomans to ideas and information that enrich our quality of life."

King serves as assistant to the president at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. He previously served on the personal staff for U.S. Representative Frank D. Lucas (OK-3). King is a 2008 graduate of SWOSU, where he studied history and political science. He and his wife, Carissa, have one daughter, Nellie.

Stroud is vice president for student affairs and dean of students at the University of Oklahoma and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from OU. Stroud and his wife, Robin, have two children, McKenna and Callahan, and reside in Norman. Tulsa’s Hofmeister was sworn in as Oklahoma’s 14th State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jan. 12, 2015. Hofmeister is a former public school teacher and small-business owner. She and her husband Gerald have four grown children.

Johnson is the eighth chancellor of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education. He was previously the 16th president of Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the 35th speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Johnson has a bachelor’s degree and juris doctor from the University of Oklahoma. He and his wife Melinda reside in Oklahoma City.

Six members of the OETA board of directors are appointed by state statute and the remaining seven are appointed by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and include King, Stroud, Hofmeister, Johnson, Richard Beck, D.M.A., (Claremore), vice president of academic student affairs at Rogers State University; Ms. Suzanne Lair (Tulsa), site principal at Jenks Public Schools; David Boren, J.D., (Norman), president of the University of Oklahoma; Ms. Denise Castelli (Oklahoma City), owner of LimeLight Productions; Mr. Burns Hargis (Stillwater), president of Oklahoma State University; Larry Rice, Ed.D., (Claremore), president of Rogers State University; Ms. Elaine Hobson (Norman), speech language pathologist; and James W. Utterback, Ph.D., (Seminole), president of Seminole State College.

In accordance with Oklahoma Statute, Section 70-23-105 (operative July 1, 1985), the authority meets at least quarterly. The authority meetings are typically conducted on the fourth Tuesday in February, April, June, August, October and December and begin at 1 p.m. at OETA, 7403 North Kelley Avenue, Oklahoma City. Board agendas and minutes can be found online at http://www.oeta.tv/about/board-of-directors/.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Music Monday: Before the Throne of God Above

This week's Music Monday is Before the Throne of God Above, sung by the Crown College Choir.

Enjoy!

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Click to go below the page break to see all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to submit for a future Music Monday? Email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

LYRICS:

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great High Priest whose name is love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heav’n He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there, the risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless Righteousness
The great unchangeable I AM
The King of glory and of grace
One with Himself, I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God
With Christ my Savior and my God

Sunday, September 11, 2016

15 Years: Never Forget

It's been 15 years now since the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. I was eleven at the time, and this was by far the most momentous world event of my childhood. I work in the kids program at church, and it's somewhat disconcerting to realize that most of the children were born after 9/11.

When I was a kid, I would periodically keep a journal. Here's my entry for 9/11/01:


Never forget.



Saturday, September 10, 2016

Muskogee County: trouble for Democrats, optimism for GOP



While Muskogee County tilts heavily Democratic in voter registration, campaign finance records show the local Democratic Party and their legislative candidates in deep trouble, while the Republican Party is on solid ground and set to make big gains.

As of April 2016, Democrats beat Republicans in Muskogee County voter registration 58.17%  to 28.98% -- a difference of 29.19%. While still a big lead, that's a far cry from 2006, when Democrats comprised 67.4% and Republicans were at 22.26% -- a difference of 45.14%. The Democratic decline has been less steep in Muskogee County than, say, Bryan County, but it's very real nonetheless.

In 2006, Republicans won House District 14 for the first time ever, and in 2014 Republicans won their first-ever County Commission seat. This election could set records for the Muskogee County Republicans. Let's look at some campaign finance figures.

House District 14 - Republican-held since 2006 (map)
Rep. George Faught (R) has raised $14,850.00 this cycle, and has $46,009.10 on hand. His Democratic challenger Lee Ann Langston has raised just $1,200.00 and has a pitiful $550.00 on hand.

House District 13 - open Democrat-held seat (map)
Victorious in a three-way primary, Republican Avery Frix has raised a total of $55,858.16 so far, and has $10,656.55 on hand. Democrat candidate Wayne Herriman raised $10,415.00 and has $5,000.21 on hand. Republicans held this seat from 2000 to 2004, but until this election failed to field any more serious candidates.

Senate District 9 - open Democratic-held seat (map)
Winner of a competitive primary contest, Republican Dewayne Pemberton has raised $38,255.00 and has $11,116.92 on hand. Meanwhile, Democrat Jack Reavis has raised $12,632.34 and has a mere $849.87 on hand. To my knowledge, no Republican has ever held this seat.

Looking at County Party structure is even more dramatic. The Muskogee County Republican Party raised $17,746.00 from January 1st through June 30th, and has $23,266.32 cash-on-hand with which to assist their candidates and promote the party. The Muskogee County Democratic Party hasn't filed an ethics report since July 2015, but at that point they had only raised $357.06 on the year and had $488.51 in the bank.

This is looking to be a great year for the Muskogee County Republicans.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly dies at 92


From Eagle Forum:

Today, Phyllis Schlafly passed away in the presence of her family at her home in St. Louis, Missouri.

An​ iconic​ American​ leader​ whose love for America was surpassed only by her love of God and her family​​,​ Phyllis Schlafly, an ​indomitable pro-family grassroots advocate and organizer, was ​92 years old. ​Mrs. Schlafly was preceded in death by her beloved husband Fred and​ is survived by six children a​long with 16 grand and ​3 ​great grandchildren.

​Phyllis ​Schlafly ​spent​ an astounding 70 years ​in public service ​of ​her fellow Americans. Her focus from her earliest days until her final ones was​ protecting ​the​ ​family, which she understood as the building block of life. She recognized America as the greatest political embodiment of those ​values. From military superiority and defense to immigration and trade; from unborn life to the nuclear family and parenthood, Phyllis Schlafly​​​ was a courageous and articulate voice for common sense and traditional values. She authored 27 books and thousands of articles. She spoke tens of thousands of times across the United States.​

Her joy in life was evident to all through her smile and wit. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Music Monday: The Hunt

This week's Music Monday is Liberty, played by Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel. I saw him play on a PBS special the other day, and.... wow!

Enjoy, and have a great Labor Day!



Click to go below the page break to see all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to submit for a future Music Monday? Email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Auditor eviction drama grows


The drama continues to grow over plans to permanently evict the State Auditor's office from the State Capitol building as a result of ongoing renovations, with Governor Mary Fallin and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman commenting on the situation.

Gov. Fallin spoke with The Oklahoman about the issue:
“Certainly I think it is important for a state elected official to have an office in the Capitol,” Fallin said. Fallin said she was unaware of a plan to move the auditor's office out of the Capitol building until she read about it in the newspaper.
John Estus, spokesman for OMES, previously said "“The decision [to evict the Auditor's office] was made jointly by the House speaker's office, Senate pro tem's office and our office with assistance from architects and engineers working on the restoration project." While House Speaker Jeff Hickman issued a statement supporting the move, Senate President Brian Bingman had a different reaction:
Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman expressed surprise Wednesday that the state auditor had been told that his office would be forced to permanently move from the state Capitol, which is undergoing a $245 million renovation. “I'm not aware of any final decision that, ‘Hey, this agency has got to move out,'” Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said Wednesday. “I don't think I'm aware of anything that's been finalized.”
Rep. Mark McBride (R-Moore), a member of the State Capitol Repair Expenditure Oversight Committee, said the following: "The Capitol Repair Oversight Committee has never discussed moving the State Auditor from the Capitol. Neither has the Oklahoma House of Representatives ever held any discussions on moving the State Auditor from the Capitol. No legislative member that I have talked to has any recollection of ever discussing this move. I am very disappointed in the way this decision was made. This is a discussion that not only should have included all invested parties in the restoration of the Capitol Building, but also any subsequent decision should have been made using the proper protocol and procedures."

Blogger David Van Risseghem points out that for most of Oklahoma's history, the State Capitol was large enough to house most or all of the state's agencies, but now, government growth has made that impossible, even though Republicans who espouse cutting government and bureaucracy are in full control of Oklahoma's government.

Jones seems to think he'll win the fight. Yesterday, he told the Edmond Kiwanis Club, "A little kink in their plans is that Article 6 of the Constitution says that these certain constitutional offices will be housed at the seat of government. And there’s an Attorney General’s opinion that says the seat of government is the state Capitol."